Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chicken feather strings

Seeing as I am making this chicken feather cloak I thought I would see how far a string of feathers goes.  Here is the string as I receive it.

It's pretty gross and unusable.  But I wash them in some gentle soap until the water is clear and hang them out to drip.  When no more water is dropping off and before they are dry I blow dry them bit by bit until all the feathers are fluffy and dry. This can take 20mins or so. A long and slow process but at least they don't get all tangled up like if you put them in the dryer. They finish up like this.

Now for the bundling. Some of the feathers are really thin, some are beautiful and thick, some are fluffy, some are skinny. I put them together sometimes in bundles of three or sometimes 4 or 5 depending on their thickness and that of their stalks. I am trying for lush bundles with thin stalks. This I usually can achieve by pulling off the fluff on one side of the feathers. There is waste of course,  in this case an ice cream tub full of broken feathers, too skinny feathers, just unusable feathers and fluff from the sides. 

From one string 120cm long I managed 280 bundles. Now I am averaging 55 bundles per feather row on my cloak (which in this case is every row) which means I should get 5 rows from one string of feathers. Mostly the feather and stalk are followed by two whenu instead of three, as is usual, but the thickness of the string requires it.  My cloak has 230 whenu from the new thick string from ICB and is 95 cm wide. The new string is nice to work with and the work is going quite quickly. It is slowed down by the working of every row feathers, and their bundling takes time but I am happy I will have something to show Saturday week when we have our next all day weaving group.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Elaine's finished korowai

It was great catching up with all the tuesday group last week and seeing the impressive korowai that Elaine has made for her daughter and a framed piece to sell at a pink ribbon day auction. She had been busy while I have been away.

We had a morning of catching up with some of the things I had learnt on my trip and general catchup.   I cut the thick new string from ICB for a school cloak. I have 130 whenu plus two for edging and it is nearly 1 Metre wide.  Now I have been working away steadily bundling the cheap brown hen feathers and weaving them in.  I have found that sometimes I am only having two whenu between feathers and sometimes three. Having decided to put them in flicking upwards I found I had to do a feather row every row which means a lot more work but should result in a lovely thick cloak.  I haven't done this for a long time but it was lovely to see one done like this while away and I wanted to try it again. I have also done the multidirectional taaniko which taught me a bit about design and what was not a good idea.  I am using some techniques from Diggeress' s book 'Weaving a kakahu' like her lengthening of aho threads should they be too short.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Angel Korowai

On the Tuesday before I left on my trip the Ocean View Weaving ladies took our wee angel korowai to the Queen Mary Hospital along with another lady whose group make lovely cocoons to receive the wee babes that pass away. We were surprised and delighted that there were quite a number of people there to witness the handing over and blessing of the gifts. It was a simple ceremony but we felt it a real privilege that we were thanked in this manner.

I also made two korowai to be used with the wahakura where live babies can be photographed. 

A very special morning. 


Home at last

After another successful weekend wananga at Temuka, where another seven ladies were introduced to weaving korowai, I have got home at last.  It's been a very interesting time away, learning lots more about cloaks old and new and meeting with friends and family and spending time with my mum.

The school at Arowhenua let us use their library for our weekend course. The ladies worked hard but the last afternoon was almost too much so we didn't finish quite but all the skills required were learnt. I think I will have to cut down the number of whenu to 34 and the feather rows to three. I'll give that a go next time. We had another look at a very old cloak which had inspired me to make a bag.

I had made a cloak for the school and handed it over to some of the ladies to pass on this week. I hope they liked it. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Old cloaks

Today I was able to see the collection of old korowai in  Aratoi the Masterton art gallery and museum.  It was wonderful to closely examine the sides,  the row endings,  the tags and feathers, the taaniko, the shaping etc. The fineness of the whenu and closely woven rows always amaze me.  There was a wide range of designs.

If you have the opportunity to go through a museums collection think about what you want to see in particular. I was concentrating on sides and shaping and can't wait to get home to try it all out.  The tags were interesting too, now that I have got the hang of the proper way of putting them in.  In fact I might go out right now and use some of the string I have cut and get on to it. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

learning new things

I am on a road trip around the country visiting friends and family and very excited about the new things I am learning.  Last week we talked to a very good weaver in Te Awamutu who showed me a wonderful old ending to aho rows, new ways of dealing with jute string to make beautiful whenu and some beautiful korowai to make me eager to get home and get to work.

Last weekend I was in Napier taking a group of about 10 for a techniques day. We covered options for casting on,  sides, row endings including the new one I learnt that week, and we worked out the old way of putting in tags.  I showed them how to make bags and everyone went home happy.  I was also shown a gadget to do the cut on a harekeke and a piece of greenstone to get out the muka.  Chris made me one on the spot. What a lovely man. He also gave me some more of his muka made by a machine.  I can't wait to get home and work with it. 

On Tuesday I will be able to examine some old cloaks in a museum in Masterton, which I am very much looking forward to.  I have a better idea of what to look for now, than ever before. 

On Wednesday we cross back to the South Island and the next day arrive back in Timaru to take a beginner class in Temuka. Then at last I will be able to go back home and try to work out something to make to try out the new things I have learnt.